Spain’s ‘flour war’ takes aim at corruption

Spain's Els Enfarinats festival may be one of the world's greatest food fights but many participants this year had an extra point to prove about corruption among the country's politicians.

Spain's 'flour war' takes aim at corruption
Revelers take part in the battle of "Enfarinats", a flour fight, in the town of Ibi, south-eastern Spain, on Sunday. Photo: Jaime Reina/AFP

Around 3,000 residents of the town in Ibi in Spain's Valencia region on Sunday attacked each other with flour and rotten eggs in an annual festival with serious political undertones.

The festival known as Els Enfarinats (the Floured Ones) sees rowdy participants stage a mock coup against local authorities.

During Sunday's rebellion, which coincided with Spain's December 28th equivalent of April Fool's Day, the town's new rulers engaged in a noisy — and messy — battle with a group known as the L’Oposició (The Opposition).   

More than 1,500 rotten eggs were thrown while hundreds of kilograms of flour were tossed about as the Els Enfarinats revolutionaries tried to consolidate their brief stint in power, regional daily La Verdad reported. 

SEE ALSO: Spain's top ten craziest festivals

A unique feature of the festival in Ibi sees the town's temporary leaders taking up a collection with money which is gathered by imposing fines on people who break absurd new laws introduced for the day.

But the winter event, thought to have its origins in the Roman Saturnalia festival, is not all fun and games.

This year the money raised by the collection went to a local old people's home, while there was also a serious political undercurrent as Spain deals with rampant corruption among its politicians.

"The (Els Enfarinats coup) was what a lot of people would like, a little local revolution, but it would be better if it were bigger," Eva Mayol, a 28-year-old biologist who took part in the battle told Spain's El País newspaper. 

The previous mayor of the town, Mayte Parra with the country's ruling conservative Popular Party (PP), was dismissed from office after a motion of no-confidence. Three councillors under her administration are currently being investigated over allegations of bribery and money laundering.

"What we need is genuine renovation, people are tired of hearing the same thing, the arrival of (the hugely popular new anti-austerity party) Podemos has forced us to take the path which we should have gone on ourselves," the town's new mayor Rafael Serralta, also with the PP, told El País. 

Valencia is widely considered to be the 'capital of corruption' in Spain.

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#Tomatinachallenge: Join the world’s biggest food fight (from afar)

In normal times, the town of Buñol in the Valencia region of eastern Spain would be in a frenzy of preparation with hordes of people flocking to the in take part in what has become the world’s biggest food fight.

#Tomatinachallenge: Join the world’s biggest food fight (from afar)
Photo: AFP

But this isn’t a normal year and like fiestas all across Spain that have been cancelled in the Covid-19 pandemic, the annual Tomatina won’t be taking place in 2020. At least it won’t be taking place in its usual format.

What usually happens at 11am in the streets of Buñol on the last Wednesday in August is seriously messy.

Trucks loaded with some 180,000 tomatoes – an estimated 145 metric tonnes worth – roll into town to provide pulpy ammunition for the 20,000 plus partygoers crammed into Buñol for the event.

This year on what is the 75 anniversary of the first Tomatina, the town council of Buñol is asking fans from all across the globe to join in the celebrations.

The involves staging your own food fight using tomatoes, or a stunt involving total immersion in tomatoes or tomato juice and uploading the footage onto social media with the label #TomatinaChallenge.

Those who email a link to [email protected] will be entered into a prize draw to win tickets for next year’s Tomatina.

The town hall plans to use the footage to form part of a commemorative documentary so asks for videos to be filmed in landscape format.

Videos should be horizontal, or landscape, rather than vertical or portrait, since they need to be uniform – the council wants to put them all together to make a full-length, commemorative 75th anniversary 'documentary'.

“We Buñolenses love our fiesta, we love for our tradition, so this is a way for us all to join in the party this year,” insisted María Vallés, tourism councillor for Buñol.